The Manchester Free Press

Tuesday • March 31 • 2020

Vol.XII • No.XIV

Manchester, N.H.

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Ruminations of a New Hampshire Republican with decidedly libertarian leanings
Updated: 31 min 38 sec ago

Bafflingly Silent?

5 hours 40 min ago

In a column in Reason Magazine, Robby Soave asks the question, "Why Are the Mainstream Media Ignoring Tara Reade's Sexual Assault Accusation Against Joe Biden?"

On September 14, 2018, The New York Times reported the existence of an unverified sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The story cited three people who had read a letter sent by the accuser—Christine Blasey Ford—to Sen. Diane Feinstein (D–Calif.). Ford was not interviewed for the story; indeed, she wasn't named.

Unconfirmed reports of a teenaged Kavanaugh assaulting a teenaged Ford evidently merited coverage from The Times. This prompts an obvious question: Why is the paper of record now declining to publicize a very troubling allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden?

The Times is hardly alone in this regard. The mainstream media have remained bafflingly silent about Tara Reade, a former member of then-Senator Biden's staff who claims that he sexually assaulted her in 1993.

What is so baffling?  News outlets are going broke left and right.  Find out who is propping them up.  Billionaires can lose money on media ventures if those media ventures return value in some other form.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Israel's Coronavirus Vaccine Prototype

6 hours 2 min ago

The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is testing a coronavirus vaccine prototype on rodents at a defense laboratory.

JERUSALEM - Israel has begun testing a COVID-19 vaccine prototype on rodents at its bio-chemical defense laboratory, a source said on Tuesday.   Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), in rural Ness Ziona, to join the fight against the coronavirus pandemic on Feb. 1, prompting an easing of its secrecy as it cooperates with civilian scientists and private firms.     In a statement, Netanyahu's office said IIBR director Shmuel Shapira had informed him of "significant progress" in designing a vaccine prototype and that the institute "is now preparing a model for commencing an animal trial."   A source familiar with IIBR activities told Reuters that trials were already under way on rodents.
Israel has reported 4,473 cases.  There have been 19 deaths  
Categories: Blogs, United States

Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc, Azithromycin

9 hours 6 min ago

In a study conducted by Dr. Vladmir Zelenko, a board-certified family practitioner in New York, 699 coronavirus patients were treated with a combination of hydroxychloroquine sulfate, zinc, and azithromycin.  No patients died, no patients were intubated, and only four were hospitalized.

Categories: Blogs, United States

FDA Approves Hydroxochoroquine and Chloroquine for COVID-19

9 hours 6 min ago

From the WSJ, An FDA Breakthrough on Treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday green-lighted two malaria medicines that have shown some promise treating the novel coronavirus, and the emergency approvals couldn’t come soon enough. Expanding their use could bring quicker relief to patients and hospitals while allowing scientists to better assess their efficacy.

The malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine (HC) and chloroquine have been around for more than five decades, so their safety is well documented. New evidence suggests that they could also help fight the novel coronavirus, as op-eds by Dr. Jeff Colyer on these pages have reported. Both chloroquine and HC in vitro block the replication of RNA viruses like the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Vladimir Zelenko has had impressive success treating patients afflicted with the Wuhan Virus.  Of 699 patients treated with the combination of hydroxochloroquine, zinc, and azithromycin, no one died and no one had to be intubated.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin

Mon, 2020-03-30 11:04 +0000

From this morning's WSJ, An Update on the Coronavirus Treatment: Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin continue to show results for patients.

For my entire career, I have taken a conservative approach to medicine. I don’t want to give false or premature hope. All of this is subject to further refinement as more information arrives. But likewise I can’t ignore the available evidence. This appears to be the best widely available option for treating Covid-19 and not merely easing the suffering from the disease. It would be irresponsible not to pursue this option aggressively.

The author, Dr. Jeff Colyer, is a practicing physician who served as governor of Kansas from 2018 to 2019.

Categories: Blogs, United States

More Coronavirus Hoarding

Wed, 2020-03-25 21:08 +0000

It's not just toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and paper towels that have been flying off store shelves.

Updated March 24, 2020: As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread across the United States, its impact can be seen in every community. Businesses and schools are closed, the stock market is exceptionally volatile, and store shelves are empty as the American public has scrambled to prepare for the worldwide pandemic and social distancing prescribed by the WHO and CDC.

While people have stockpiled toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and pantry essentials, they've also purchased ammunition at an unprecedented rate. Here at Ammo.com, our growth in sales directly correlates with the rise of COVID-19 and its spread across the country. Starting on February 23rd, sales began to increase as the search term “coronavirus” gained traction, according to Google Trends. This increase in sales has continued as follows:

  • 720% increase in revenue
  • 434% increase in transactions
  • 334% increase in site traffic
  • 27% increase in conversion rate
  • 45% increase in average order value

Read the rest here.

Categories: Blogs, United States

It's Not Hysteria

Thu, 2020-03-19 15:25 +0000

Are we over reacting with our self imposed quarantine?  Well, it sure looked like hysteria as toilet paper and paper towels disappeared from store shelves with lightning speed. 

I went into Sam's Club on a weekday morning with a plan to stock up on essentials like beer in the event we had to quarantine ourselves.  I forgot the popcorn, but I remembered to pick up enough canned tuna, canned chicken, coffee, evaporated milk, and mayonnaise to last for a couple of weeks.  I'll carefully venture out on an as-needed basis to pick up fresh milk and bread.

Meanwhile Wall Street is going wild.  Somebody's gonna make a fortune, but it ain't me.  My formerly robust IRA account has lost more than 20% since the end of February, and today is shaping up to be another brutal day.  Yes, the market will come back, so in the long run I'm not worried.  Besides, I can scrape by without it.  Still, it's disheartening to see the losses pile up, even though I expect they will never be anything but paper losses.

On a somewhat brighter side Willis Eschenbach posting on Watts Up With That? thinks that things may not be so dire. The source of his optimism is the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined for weeks with a Coronavirus breakout.

We had a perfect petri-dish coronavirus disease (COVID-19) experiment with the cruise ship “Diamond Princess”. That’s the cruise ship that ended up in quarantine for a number of weeks after a number of people tested positive for the coronavirus. I got to wondering what the outcome of the experiment was.

So I dug around and found an analysis of the situation, with the catchy title

of Estimating the infection and case fatality ratio for COVID-19 using age-adjusted data from the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (PDF), so I could see what the outcomes were.

As you might imagine, before they knew it was a problem, the epidemic raged on the ship, with infected crew members cooking and cleaning for the guests, people all eating together, close living quarters, lots of social interaction, and a generally older population. Seems like a perfect situation for an overwhelming majority of the passengers to become infected.

And despite that, some 83% (82.7% – 83.9%) of the passengers never got the disease at all … why?

Michael Levitt, said the same thing.  Levitt is an American-British-Israeli biophysicist and Nobel Prize laureate who accurately predicted that the spread of the virus in Wuhan would slow down in February.  Levitt says "the end of the pandemic is near," pointing to the Diamond Princess to reinforce his argument.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship represented the worst-case scenario in terms of disease spread, as the close confines of the ship offered optimal conditions for the virus to be passed among those aboard. The population density aboard the ship was the equivalent of trying to cram the whole Israeli population into an area 30 kilometers square. In addition, the ship had a central air conditioning and heating system, and communal dining rooms.

“Those are extremely comfortable conditions for the virus and still, only 20% were infected. It is a lot, but pretty similar to the infection rate of the common flu,” Levitt said. Based on those figures, his conclusion was that most people are simply naturally immune.

Statistics for the Diamond Princess outbreak can be found in this analysis: Estimating the infection and case fatality ratio for COVID-19 using age-adjusted data from the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.  I decided to compare those numbers to an earlier epidemic, the 2009-2010 H1N1.  Nothing fancy, just calculated the percentages from the Diamond Princess Coronavirus numbers, applied the percentages to the U.S. population, and compared the results to the H1N1 numbers.  I compiled the following table from those statistics.

 

Diamond Princess Coronavirus Outbreak

Age Passengers Infected Deaths %Infected %Deaths 0 - 9 16 1 0 6.25% 0.00% 10 - 19 23 5 0 21.74% 0.00% 20 - 29 347 28 0 8.07% 0.00% 30 - 39 428 34 0 7.94% 0.00% 40 - 49 334 27 0 8.08% 0.00% 50 - 59 398 59 0 14.82% 0.00% 60 - 69 923 177 0 19.18% 0.00% 79 - 79 1015 234 6 23.05% 2.56% 80 - 89 216 54 1 25.00% 1.85% Totals 3711 619 7 16.68% 1.13%             H1N1 2010
308,745,538 60,800,000 12,469 19.69% 0.0205% USA 2020 330,000,000 55,044,462 622,474 16.68% 1.13%

 

Seven deaths out of 3,711 doesn't seem like a lot, but actually it is.  When you compare the infection rates of H1N1 to that of the Coronavirus, 19.69% vs. 16.68%, you can see that they are roughly comparable.  However, applying the infection rate, 16.68%, and the fatality rate, 1.13%, from the Diamond Princess to the entire 2020 U.S. population, it turns out there is no comparison to the H1N1.  The Coronvirus is far more deadly with over 622,000 projected Coronavirus deaths compared to 12,469 actual H1N1 deaths. 

OK, it's not apples to apples, comparing the entire U.S. to the Diamond Princess.  Social distancing was nearly impossible on the Diamond Princess, but we are doing it as a country, and it's sure to lower the fatality rate.

When Trump began reinstating border enforcement, when he started construction of the wall on the southern border, when he imposed tariffs, when he renegotiated trade contracts, when he devised a tax policy to repatriate U.S. companies' foreign earned income, it was all with the objective of rebuilding our manufacturing capacity, and helping American workers. All of those things have put us in a position to better withstand our current Coronavirus crisis. We can wait it out.

Open border policies never made any sense before, but now they make even less sense, if that's possible.  And suddenly we make another startling discovery: Rebuilding American manufacturing capacity — for producing our own life saving drugs which are now produced in China, as an example — isn't really such a bad idea.  Things Trump has done to protect American jobs, will help to protect American lives.

The fact is, though, our concern over the Coronavirus is not hysteria.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Don't Call It The Wuhan Virus

Wed, 2020-03-18 14:24 +0000

Andrew McCarthy:  "But there is a Republican in the White House, so what was mundane yesterday is racist today."

Moreover, the president’s letter elaborates, Congress has explicitly authorized the chief executive, in an emergency, “to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States or possessions, or from one State or possession into any other State or possession.”

Not only did history and common sense justify the administration (among others) in noting the origin of the Wuhan coronavirus. Doing so was a legal necessity if the imperative of federal support for beleaguered state governments was to be fulfilled.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Clyburn Brings Home a Winner

Sun, 2020-03-01 16:53 +0000

In his third try for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden has finally won a presidential primary, his very first. In yesterday's South Carolina Democratic primary Joe Biden came in first with 48.4% of the vote total, more than double that of the second place finisher, Bernie Sanders.

The full results are as follows:

Candidate Votes Percent Delegates Biden        255,660
       48.4% 33 Sanders 105,068 19.9% 11 Steyer 59,817 11.3%   Buttigieg 43,483 8.2%   Warren 37,285 7.1%   Klobuchar 16,610 3.1%   Others 9,802 1.9%  

Biden has been in public office since 1973 when he became U.S. Senator from Delaware.  Over the course of his political career he has run for president three times, first in 1988 and again in 2008, failing each time to win a single state primary election.  But in 2008 Biden hit political pay dirt when he became Barack Obama's running mate and then his Vice President.  It's extremely doubtful that Biden would have taken this third shot at the presidency had he not been Obama's Vice President. 

But, here we are.  At 77 years of age Biden is now the unlikely savior of the Democrats' 2020 election chances up and down the ticket.  Party leaders are nearly distraught that the leading candidate for their nomination is Bernie Sanders, who is actually not a Democrat. His nomination could create a devastating fracture in the Democratic party.

In the face of this looming disaster, Democratic Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina threw his weight behind Biden's candidacy and, perhaps reluctantly, gave him an endorsement. 

A major factor in Biden’s victory was the recent endorsement he earned from South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip. Roughly a quarter of South Carolina voters polled by ABC said that Clyburn’s endorsement was a “major” factor in the choice on Saturday, but Clyburn still appeared to distance himself from the former vice president during a Saturday hit on CNN.

“We need to do some retooling in the campaign. No question about that. I did not feel free to speak out about or even deal with it inside, because I had not committed to his candidacy,” he stated. “I have now. I’m all in. And I’m not going to sit idly by and watch people mishandle his campaign.”

If the exit polling is accurate, that a quarter of South Carolina's primary voters cast ballots for Joe Biden based on Clyburn's endorsement, Biden and the Democrats may be in some real trouble going forward.

Sanders, the Independent socialist from Vermont, is still in the lead in the delegate tally for the Democratic presidential nomination.  He has been the top vote getter in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, and finishing second in South Carolina.

In all likelihood Biden would have won South Carolina without Clyburn's endorsement, but maybe not in so convincing a fashion.  There are hypothetical scenarios in which Biden loses, but if you simply took the number of voters estimated to have relied on Clyburn's endorsement and subtracted that number from Biden's total, he still wins.

Biden's strong showing gives leading Democrats hope.  If he gains momentum going into Super Tuesday, which is coming up in two days, Biden might continue on to lock up the nomination on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention this summer.  A fatal rupture might then be averted.

Or not.  Sanders has not noticeably lost momentum.  Democrats have been moving left, promoting policies in education, immigration, voting rights, and taxation that aim to build a socialist leaning base.  And now after decades of supporting stealth socialism as the path to everlasting power, Democrats are faced with a real socialist who is picking off their leftmost leaning voters — and he's not even a Democrat.

Unless Biden wins convincingly this Tuesday, Democrats are heading for a showdown between the Democrats who are avowed socialists and the Democrats who pretend they are not socialists.  Bernie Sanders and the avowed socialists will likely lose that battle, and when they do there's little hope that they will kiss and make up with party leaders.  In that case the Sanders voters who don't stay home may very well cross over and vote for Trump.  If Sanders wins out, a significant block of Democrat voters might stay home rather than cast a vote for socialism. 

Whatever the outcome, the November election will be a choice between socialism, either stated or implied, and liberty.  Liberty is going to win.  The only question will be, how big?

Categories: Blogs, United States

February 28, 1993

Fri, 2020-02-28 22:21 +0000

The Waco Siege began on that date and lasted for 51 days.

The newly minted U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was unhappy with the progress being made at Waco, and invoked (what else) the abuse of children in her pitch for a resolution to the conflict. For his part, President Clinton, who had dealt with a similar situation as Governor of Arkansas in 1985 – with The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord – initially urged waiting out the group. Reno, however, cited antsy agents and budgetary concerns. Ultimately, Clinton told her to do whatever she thought was best.

The FBI Hostage Rescue Team – derisively nicknamed the “Hostage Roasting Team” and which denied any evidence of child abuse – came armed with 50 caliber rifles and punched holes in the walls of the building with explosives so they could pump CS poision gas into a building with small children and infants inside. The plan was to announce to the group that there was no plan to take the house by force while slowly pumping greater amounts of CS gas inside to increase pressure on them to leave.

The fires began around noon on the final day of the standoff. The FBI maintains that they were started deliberately by the Davidians, with some survivors claiming that the FBI started the fires either intentionally or accidentally. Footage of the Davidians talking about gasoline seem to refer to them making Molotov cocktails to fight the FBI with.

Nine people left the building during the fire. The remaining people inside all died either from the fire, smoke inhalation, were buried alive by rubble or were shot. Some showed signs of death by cyanide poisoning, which would likely have been a result of the burning CS gas. All told, there were 76 deaths.

Read the rest of it here.

Categories: Blogs, United States

New Hampshire Primary Results

Wed, 2020-02-12 16:41 +0000

Some interesting but predictable results from the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election are in the Union Leader this morning.  Democrat and Republican primary results are on this morning's front page.  The numbers I have here were last updated at 7:21 this morning.

On the Democrat side the results are as follows:

Candidate Votes Percent Delegates Sanders        73,470         25.9% 9 Buttigieg 69,216 24.4% 9 Klobuchar 55,982 19.8% 6 Warren 26,266 9.3%   Biden 23,813 8.4%   Steyer 10,138 3.6%   Gabbard 9,255 3.3%   Yang 8,023 2.8%   Others 7,277 2.6%  

On the Repubican side the results are as follows:

Candidate Votes Percent Delegates Trump       120,147         85.7% 20 Weld 12,747 9.1%   Write-ins 3,511 2.5%   Maxwell 864 <1%   Walsh 844 <1%   Merrill 485 <1%   Murphy 393 <1%   Matern 258 <1%   Others 886 <1%  

 

Voter registration and primary voting breakdown were as follows:

Party     Registered     Voted Participation
Democrat     276,385*     283,440 102.55% Republican     288,464*     140,135 48.58% Undeclared     415,871*        

* Party affiliation numbers are as of February 4, 2020.

Notice that more voters voted in the Democrat primary than there are registered Democrats in the state.  That is because undeclared voters may vote in the New Hampshire party primaries by asking for either the Democrat or Republican ballot to take with them into the voting booth.  However, undeclared primary voters must fill out a card or sign a list before leaving the polling place requesting return to undeclared status.  Otherwise they are automatically registered with the party of the ballot they've chosen to submit. 

So what do the numbers mean?  At the moment there is no way to tell how many undeclared voters participated in the election, only that thousands did.  Nor can we tell how many asked for Democrat ballots and how many asked for Republican ballots.  It's a safe bet to say that the majority of undeclared voters voted for a candidate on the Democrat ballot.  It's also a safe bet to say that participation rates among registered Democrats was high.  The turnout rate for the Democrat primary election was 102.55%  That means there was a substantial number of undeclared voters participating.

Trump winning the Republican primary was a foregone conclusion.  In fact, Republican that I am, I didn't decide to vote at all until the morning of the election.  Hell, I wasn't sure there was even going to be a Republican primary, but when I found out there would be, I went out to vote.  Turnout rate for the Republican primary was 48.21%.  If any undeclared voters turned out, I can't imagine there were a lot.

That might lead you to think that voter enthusiasm is much higher among Democrats than Republicans, but remember that votes in the Democrat primary have an impact on who gets New Hampshire's delegates.  On the Republican side Trump is a lock for the presidential nomination, so there was less urgency to voting in the Republican primary.  That means different rates of voter turnout do not necessarily reflect different levels of voter enthusiasm.

Consider these numbers tweeted by Brad Parscale, digital media director for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. They show the political makeup of the ticket holders for Trump's rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on the night before the primary vote.

     Big Data from New Hampshire:

Several things strike me about Parscale's numbers.  The capacity of the SNHU Arena is just under 12,000, so the number of tickets given out is much higher than the number who got into the arena.  Trump estimated the crowd both inside and out at 40,000 to 50,000 people.  I haven't found any other estimates that would indicate the size of the crowd outside, but people began lining up the day before to get inside. Camping out in the cold overnight signals a high level of Trump voter enthusiasm.

Of the voters who identified themselves as registered voters, only 41% said they were from New Hampshire.  Others are reported to have traveled from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to attend, and some maybe even farther.  Approximately 4,200 of the registered voters said they did not vote in the 2016 election.  Parscale does not say how many were new voters and how many were registered in 2016 but did not vote. 

It's astonishing that a quarter of the tickets went to people who said they were Democrats,  But it does not strike me as farfetched.  After all, Trump flipped Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania from solidly blue when he won the presidency in 2016.  Such a large of a percentage of ticket holders is evidence of a high level of Trump enthusiasm among a particular group of Democrats, but it's hard to say how large that group is compared to the universe of Democrats.

Going only by those numbers — from the Trump rally and the New Hampshire primary — 2020 seems to be stacking up in Trump's favor.  And now the Trump campaign can begin. 

Scandals contrived by Democrats to sink Trump failed.  There is evidence that Democrat skullduggery and possible criminality went on in the construction of those scandals.  We already know from the DOJ Inspector General's report that evidence was falsified in order to get the FISA warrants that the Obama administration used for spying on the Trump campaign.  That falsification could mean that the entire basis for the Mueller investigation was illegally obtained, and if that's true, all of the charges coming out of that investigation could get tossed.  And that could be just the tip of the iceberg.

We will find out — probably in bit by bit fashion — between now and November.  He is the showman, that Trump.  So don't be surprised if it all culminates in a Republican landslide in November.

Categories: Blogs, United States

The Impulsive Trump

Sat, 2020-02-01 13:41 +0000

The Mainstream Media (MSM) reaction to the killing of Qasem Soleimani has been, if nothing else, predictable.  Trump ordered the hit on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General when it was known he would be traveling with his entourage along the Baghdad airport access road in Iraq.  It was a decisive and devastating strike, eliminating Soleimani, four of his fellow Quds Force commanders and the head of an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia.  It occurred in Iraq, a designated war zone, after Iran-backed militias rocketed several coalition bases killing an American contractor, and after an attack on the U.S. Embassy. 

According to the MSM version of events, Trump acted impulsively, oblivious to the unpredictable and disastrous consequences that were sure to follow.  Here are a few samples:

New York Times, January 8, 2020: The Trump We Did Not Want to See

The reality of Donald Trump — an amoral narcissist with no capacity for reflection or personal growth — is evident from his decades in public life. But rather than face this, too many people have rejected the facts in front of them, choosing an illusion instead of the disturbing truth.

The past week has been a prime example of this phenomenon. On Thursday night, the United States killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran leader of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force and one of the most powerful military leaders in the region.

Washington Post, January 9, 2020: Trump does not have a foreign policy. He has a series of impulses.

The problem with Trump’s foreign policy is not any specific action. The killing of Soleimani could be justified as a way to respond to Iranian provocations, but this move, like so much of Trump’s foreign policy, was impulsive, reckless, unplanned and inconsistent — and as usual, the chief impact is chaos and confusion.

Salon, January 9, 2020: Press Watch: Here's the crucial context every article on Trump and Iran should include

The decision to kill Soleimani was impulsive, inflammatory and highly unusual. Journalists must say that clearly....

There’s no evidence of a normal deliberative process.

  • Trump does not pay attention to details.
  • He does not display any appreciation for strategic planning
  • The support system of knowledgeable, experienced people to which a president would normally turn for advice in such a circumstance does not exist.
  • There is no evidence that any normal procedures were followed in this process.

Once again the media move in lockstep, ignoring that which contradicts the preconceived narrative.  But there are several things immediately evident from this strike.

First, there was good intelligence on the plans and whereabouts of Soleimani.  We knew where he was going to be and when he would be there.  Because Soleimani was taken out in the early hours of the morning, there was no collateral damage.  Recent Twitter reports say that a number of IRGC commanders have been arrested, suggesting that Iran has taken steps to find and plug an intelligence leak.

Second, the hit on Soleimani puts an exclamation point on the departure from a well worn approach to American foreign policy in the Middle East.  Over the past four decades American Middle East policy has been based on two delusions that Trump has rejected.  Caroline Glick describes them in her recent article, Donald Trump and the mythmakers.  First is the myth that allowed American presidents to evade any obligation to hold Iran accountable for the crimes of its proxies.

[W]hen Iranian "students" seized the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, they placed the Carter administration in a dilemma: If President Jimmy Carter acknowledged that the "students" weren’t students, but soldiers of Iran’s dictator Ayatollah Khomeini, the US would be compelled to fight back. And Carter and his advisers didn't want to do that.

So rather than admit the truth, Carter accepted the absurd fiction spun by the regime that Khomeini was an innocent bystander who, try as he might, couldn't get a bunch of "students" in central Tehran to free the hostages.

For forty years Iran has been attacking America through proxies, and for forty years every president since Carter has gone along with the fiction that it's beyond Iran's control, and so the Iranian regime has never been held responsible.  Which brings us to the second myth, which is the one that enables the first:

The second false narrative that has formed the basis of US Middle East policy since Carter is that Israel and the so-called "occupation" are responsible for the absence of peace in the Middle East.

As long as American presidents could plausibly blame West Bank "occupation" by Israel for any of the Middle East unrest, they could ignore Iran's hand in the havoc wrought by their terrorist proxies and thus avoid uncomfortable confrontations.  Forty years of bombings and rocket attacks were only what Israel brought upon itself — or so we were all supposed to pretend.

Trump first signaled his rejection of this traditional blame-Israel posture by recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, and then moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.  More recently Trump has discontinued a policy that originated in the Carter administration, the one that considered Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal under international law.

When Trump dropped the hammer on Soleimani, he left no doubt about where he believes Middle East unrest originates.  Trump's new policy makes crystal clear that it's the Islamic leaders in Iran who should be seriously concerned about what America might do, instead of the other way around.  Iran will be held accountable.

This represents a paradigm shift that MSM have yet to internalize.  Instead the media have chosen to indulge themselves in yet another round of projection.  It's the media, not Trump, who are unable to pay attention to details.  It's the media, not Trump, who are unable to appreciate strategic planning, particularly the strategic planning that has brought us to this moment.  America is in a much stronger position, economically and militarily, than it was when Trump took office.  Gone unnoticed is that President Trump has put himself into position where he can do what six presidents before him were unable or unwilling to do — confront Iran and its proxies.

Strange as this may sound, tax policy was the instrumental first step.  Cutting marginal income tax rates, a move that unquestionably encourages investment, provided a boost to the U.S. economy.  A more powerful boost, though only a one-timer, was in the tax treatment of corporate overseas income and the subsequent repatriation of huge sums of money back into the American economy.  However, the tax cuts that put us into uncharted territory were the dramatic reductions corporate tax rates, which instantly made U.S. corporations more competitive in the global economy.  The aim and the result of all of those cuts was a hiring binge.

Trump made it easier still for companies to hire workers by requiring that the federal agencies cut regulations.  Trump demanded that for each new federal regulation proposed, two existing regulations had to be rescinded.  In the deregulation frenzy that followed eight federal regulations have been cut for each new regulation proposed.

To the astonishment of establishment economy pundits, unemployment dropped to historic lows across all demographics.  The American economy picked up steam just as it was expected to go into recession.  Consumers were driving it as more Americans had jobs and money in their pockets.  The strong consumer driven economy made the next step possible, that of renegotiating trade deals.

Trump's tariffs became the argument that convinced America's trading partners that Trump was serious about renegotiating new deals.  Oh, the hand wringing.  According to media consensus, Trump's trade war — the result of Trump's tariffs — would be the cause of a worldwide depression.  Again, to the great surprise of mainstream pundits, the consumer driven economy easily withstood the effects of the tariffs. Trump's boast, that America could win any trade war, was borne out.  The USMCA, NAFTA's replacement, awaits Senate approval.  Phase One of a China trade deal is about to be signed.  Investor confidence as measured by the major stock market indices is at an all-time high.

The tariffs came with an unforeseen versatility.  With the border wall still uncompleted and liberal judges blocking almost every Trump effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration, the Mexican Army has stepped up to intercept the waves of bogus asylum seekers before they reach the U.S. southern border.  The threat of tariffs on Mexican goods helped to provide Mexico with the necessary incentives.  The flow of cheap illegal labor has been stemmed to a degree.  American workers get those jobs, giving further boost to our booming economy.

In the meantime, Trump has been beefing up our military, increasing defense spending. 

Finally, rescinding Obama administration energy regulations has helped to boost the already in progress fracking boom.  America is energy independent. In fact, America is the world's largest exporter of natural gas.  We don't need Middle Eastern oil.  

When General Qasem Soleimani turned up in paradise looking for his 72 virgins, back here on earth there was no spike in oil prices.  The stock market didn't hiccup.  Nothing.  Iran fired a few missiles into Iraq and issued an announcement that said to the effect, please don't respond.  Since no one was killed or injured, Trump had no need to.

MSM has ignored all of what went on for the last three years, pretending that none of it ever happened.  Impulsive Trump has no clue.  When there is no escaping from the facts — that all those things did happen — the media explain that it all came about by chance.  A series of fortunate accidents which have no bearing on foreign policy anyway.  The media's job, as they see it, is not to report the facts, but to persuade.  Facts are of secondary importance to the "truths" that have already been decided upon for the edification of the news consuming public.  For the past three years the media have seen it as their duty to select (or create) the facts that will persuade us all to believe that Trump must go.  Trump is inattentive, impulsive, unwilling to listen to the experts, and ignorant of basic foreign policy principles.  The list could go on, but in short, Trump is a threat to democracy, a threat to America, and a threat to world peace.

We are in an information war.  The media wage it by hiding, shading, and misrepresenting news that doesn't fit their preferred narrative.  It's obvious.  People can see it.  As a result, only 13% of Americans say they have "a great deal" of trust in the media.  Trump understands this and plays to media prejudices.  They want impulsive?  Trump gives them impulsive. He is our star player in the information war. He has been masterful in his use of Twitter, with an uncanny ability to goad the Mainstream Media to oppose Trump at every turn, and in the process to contradict themselves, to reveal their true colors, to defend the indefensible. That impulsive Trump.  And so the media report.  And as Americans' trust in the media slips a little further, America grows a little stronger.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Happy New Year!

Tue, 2019-12-31 21:27 +0000

The Dow closed at 28,538.44 for the decade.  That's 107 points off of the all time record high of 28,645.26 which was set last Friday.

It is my sincere wish that 2020 will see accountability exacted for the astonishing Deep State corruption that continues to be revealed by our Department of Justice.

I hope and expect Donald Trump will be re-elected in a landslide, that Republicans will increase their majority in the Senate, and that they will re-take the House.

In 2020 Libertarian Leanings will publish a recommendation for Campaign Finance and Federal Compensation Reform.

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

Categories: Blogs, United States

The Constitution And Our Founding Fathers — A Discussion

Mon, 2019-12-16 14:50 +0000

The conversation that follows took place online at JustOneMinute beginning on the afternoon of December 15, 2019.  The only editing that I've done was to select only comments that were on the topic of our Founding and our Founding Fathers, and in a very small number of comments I've excluded references to other off-topic comments.

There is no doubt the Founders were geniuses and quite possibly the greatest concentration of extraordinary men in the same place at the same time in history. The lens of time often has us conflate the greats of Greece, Rome or other civilizations as one group when they were usually spread over hundreds of years.

But in a sense, a great deal of what they thought, said and did was self-evident. Even a group of mediocrities, if looking at the world through the lens of the Western Civ/Judeo-Christian tradition, has already had most of the heavy lifting done for them by those who came before. The Founders leaned almost entirely on that rock of Truth and those portions of The Enlightment that use that Truth as its foundation. Their greatness and genius was more the wisdom to accept what tradition had already proven valuable and liberty preserving while rejecting what had proven the opposite. They were men shorn almost completely of ideology. Their particular genius was to then know how to codify those traditional virtues. But because they were wise they knew it was not so much their genius but the shoulders on which they stood that determined whether we could keep the republic they built. Hence their warnings that a virtuous and religious people were the only type likely to keep their bequest.

You only have to look at contemporaneous France to see what men jumping down off those shoulders and following the way that seems right to a man but instead leads to death bequeath to their nation; a reign of terror.
And you only have to look at the course of our country over the last 100 years to see the same thing.

The greatest genius is the genius of humility to acknowledge the ancient wisdom that has already been given to us and to follow it. For the most part it is the genius and wisdom of growing up instead of being a perpetual child. Philadelphia was chock full of men. Paris and modern Washington DC were and are the rule of obstreperous and ignorant infants, toddlers and children.

But in a sense, a great deal of what they thought, said and did was self-evident.

I agree with much of what you wrote, Iggy, but I think this does them a disservice, though I understand what you are saying is that in a sense truth is self-evident if you shed your ideological biases and rely on the accumulated wisdom of our great thinkers. Still, their ability to foresee so much, at the level of detail, as an example, in the Hamilton quote about impeachment, goes beyond self-evident truths.

They weren't perfect. One could argue they erred with the "general welfare" and interstate commerce clauses, that ended up being invitations to tyranny. And maybe Hamilton was a bit too sanguine about a strong central government. But I bet none of them would be surprised today to see how far down we've fallen, and would perhaps only be amazed that it took this long.

Speaking of the wisdom of the founders

George Washington was strongly against the political parties. He feared their growing influence and warned of the “continual mischiefs of the spirit of party”. He thought that it would lead to “the alternate domination” of each party, taking revenge on each other in the form of reactionary political policies, and that it would eventually cause the North and South to split.

--Still, their ability to foresee so much...goes beyond self-evident truths.--

jimmy,
That's what I meant by "their particular genius". They took the West's accumulated wisdom and laid out a means by which to enshrine it in the founding documents in order to preserve liberty.
And as for them being shocked at how far we've slid and the mischief we've gotten up to regarding the commerce clause etc, that's why they knew if we didn't continue to stand on those same virtuous shoulders they did, whatever they had wrought would rot.

Our founding fathers didn't just look to tradition and ancient wisdom. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was first published in 1776. Eleven years after that, out constitution was signed.

We marvel our beautifully designed constitutional structure with its checks and balances. It was designed to rely on members of the three branches each defending their own turf. Or to put it another way, it was designed with the idea that men would act in their own best interests.

I think that is the greater genius -- that they designed a government that was not intended to rely on the virtue of those in charge. Very libertarian in today's sense of the word.

Shooting from the hip here, but I'm not aware of any of the national constitutions developed since ours was, that have put such a reliance on self interest as a way of promoting integrity. Nor are there any national constitutions that have been as successful as ours.

It's tempting to say that it was sheer genius to promote individual liberty as the foundation for greatest world power in history. But I really believe that our great power and wealth are really the unintended consequences of liberty.

A very articulate post. One thing I have done with my son is to make sure he understands our constitution and how it was created and why. I have always felt "the why" was more important than "the how".

In his US History class they have formed teams to debate whether creating our republic was necessary or an over-reaction. That question has never been asked as far as I know. But an intesting way for our kids to understand life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Thanks, Jack. Now there's a question that would never have occurred to me: Was creating our republic an over-reaction? I'd like to hear how your son answers that one.

Which leads me to further speculation around our founding and the founding fathers. People of their time might have thought of Adam Smith as edgy and pseudo-intellectual. Imagine thinking of our country's founding as driven by a fad. Of course, with the perspective of a couple hundred years, it's safe to say Smith's ideas didn't turn out to be a fad.

But I think it was quite a lucky thing that our founders were subject to the intellectual influence of Adam Smith right when they were drawing up their plans.

An intellectual fad i dont think so, now the french revolution and rousseau was probably closer to that. One might argue the proxinate course of the first was the debt incurred from the french indian war as the second was the american revolution, also the little cooling period wrought havoc on the harvest of 1788.

--Our founding fathers didn't just look to tradition and ancient wisdom. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was first published in 1776. Eleven years after that, out constitution was signed.--

We're not in disagreement. I think I noted that, unlike the Frogs, they used the best parts of The Enlightenment which Smith was one of the great thinkers of.
But the entire enterprise, including The Enlightenment was built on the framework of Western Civilization.
Adam Smith and John Locke's ideas were not ultimately antithetical to that civilization. Spinoza and especially Rousseau's, brought to their inevitable extremes in the French Republic were.

We are not in disagreement, Ig. Nor are we Narciso.

Its agood rhetorical question, the soil was ready in the colonies case, too luch water in the french case and a century later the ground was too dry in russia.

The french revolution scared catherine away from continuing reforms.

IRT discussion of the Founders. This has been on my refrigerator door for eight years, it appears from the date of publication!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703959604576152742545048826

Our Founders Were All on the Same Page


In regard to Donald Kochan's wonderful "Reading Adam Smith in Arabic" (op-ed, Feb. 17) about the importance of exposing the Arab world to the ideas of Western democracies: It is important to remember that the men who met to write the U.S. Constitution were able to do so in less than four months because they were, excepting regional and personal differences, quite literally on the same page.

They had all read the same books: Locke's "Two Treatises on Government," Montesquieu's "The Spirit of the Laws," Rousseau's "The Social Contract," Voltaire's writings and those of Adam Smith. They had read deeply, and often in Latin, the Roman writers on civil life: Virgil, Cicero and Tacitus. These books gave the founding fathers a vocabulary in which to conduct a discourse about what a government ought to be and do.

Prof. Kochan is right. These ideas are our greatest gift to countries attempting to form relations between a state and its people.

Cabell Smith

Pacific Palisades, Calif.

The discussions about the drivers behind the language of the Declaration of Independence today have been very interesting.

In the genealogy research Mrs. Buckeye has been doing, she has uncovered many documents that date to the Revolution. Historical accounts, family wills, etc.

Both of us are descendants of veterans of the Revolution that staked their claim to lands set aside in the parts of Ohio that were the Virginia military district.

The sense I have after reading these documents is that these pioneers wanted their 160 acres, thank you very much, and just get the hell out of the way. They knew they were on their own, and there was little the government could/would do on their behalf.

I suspect fighting and dying for a decade had a significant contributor to that attitude.

An interesting factoid about our constitution is that Jefferson proposed it be revised every generation. I am suprised the Progs haven't used that in all their repeal the electoral college arguments. Which tells me they are absolutely ignorant of our Constitution and its rights it bestows on Citizens.

Ignatz:

I was trying to remember the original quote touting the importance of virtue in re governance, and came across a whole page of Liberty and Virtue citations, although the background was so distracting that I copy/pasted it into a blank document to read it. It includes comments from the founders and their contemporaries, like this one from Jean Jacques Rousseau, "A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue," up to something actually worth contemplating from George Will, "Today it would be progress if everyone would stop talking about values. Instead, let us talk, as the Founders did, about virtues."

That said, I have to disagree with your assertion that, "Their particular genius was to then know how to codify those traditional virtues." I think they were rather remarkable for not attempting to do any such thing. The closest they might be said to have come was the Bill of Rights, a proscriptive list which presumes a certain lack of virtue.

I certainly believe the Founders were generally in accord over the necessity of and relationship between both private and civic virtue. Indeed the 18th century definition of happiness owed more to the Epicurean sense of civic virtue as the most gratifying ideal, than to happiness as we understand it today. In fact, Jefferson once claimed:

I am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.
Then again, you can find supporting quotes from Jefferson on almost any side of almost any issue. He once looked forward to the day when we would be a country of Unitarians.

While I'm not sure exactly how dramatically we differ, I do think your assertion that, "They were men shorn almost completely of ideology," seems wildly overstated, especially considering the arguments and politicking that went into both our revolution and the Constitution which emerged from it. It was a time of great intellectual winds blowing in many directions, and I believe the Founders were fully conscious of embarking on something new. Nor were they of one accord when it came to whose shoulders they were standing on. Jefferson, it seems, was not always on the "same page" with himself:

Jefferson in many ways doubted the classical world was the original mold upon which the American experiment had to be built. He was sure the ancients knew all but nothing about revolution and, more generally, that looking backward for precedents was not suitable to the American republican character.
There were others who rejected anything that smacked of Hellenism. Jefferson quotes are just the easiest to find, but there was a real range of attitudes and philosophies among the group as a whole. Yes, they emerged from the Western Civ/Judeo-Christian tradition, but so did the revolutionaries in France who represent a different face of that shared background.

The founders were, by and large, educated, landholding businessmen (in which group I would include farmers). I would argue that that, in and of itself, is a pivotal, foundational and structural difference between the American & French revolutions, which affected the course of their histories every step of the way. By the time the French got around to rejecting religion outright, their trajectory was already well-set. Unlike the U.S., the French revolution exploded forth from a landless, initially urban, class with centuries worth of animus toward the upper, educated, landholding, entitled classes. That may be the most significant difference between the two, IMO.

We were also extremely lucky that an ocean lay between us and our Continental contemporaries. If we had been a contiguous land mass, we'd have been carved up like Poland before a Constitutional Convention was even a gleam in our founders' eyes. The French revolution was buffeted by the crosswinds of European great power interests in powerful storms we never had to weather. The post-war peace afforded us the time & space to actually argue about the arrangement of our government.

I think we all an agree that The Founder's weren't smart enough to draft the eligibility requirements without leaving a loophole for a British Subject to become Commander in Chief of The United States Armed Forces.

Or maybe they did it on purpose???

—They had all read the same books: Locke's "Two Treatises on Government," Montesquieu's "The Spirit of the Laws," Rousseau's "The Social Contract," Voltaire's writings and those of Adam Smith.—

How many have read these today? How many of our supposed leaders in government could tell you the first thing about these thinkers? I bet not one in ten. And of those, not one in ten understood them.

jimmyk, I consider anything by Rousseau to be suspect. Cite one worthwhile concept in his "The Social Contract”.

JMH, Rousseau’s "A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue" is a meaningless platitude.

And what is this "virtue" of which they speak but do not define? Far more sensible is Emerson’s better crafting of Dictionary Johnson’s “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Jefferson was a marvelous wordsmith adept at borrowing words, but what did the evidence show he believed? He proved all in for Virginia and not much for the nation.

The Constitution did not so much trust in virtue as not trust anyone. Therein lies wisdom. We are, after all, human.

Over reliance on Rousseau produced the French Revolution.

When I was in ROTC at UC even taking an Engineering curriculum I had to take the Philosophy of Democracy which included Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire. I remember all of us looking at each other shrugging our shoulders and about the 4th or 5th class it dawned on all of us. It was how we began as a country.

BTW, it was a requirement of ROTC not my engineering curriculum. Wonder how ROTC promotes the elements of democracy today?

These books gave the founding fathers a vocabulary in which to conduct a discourse about what a government ought to be and do.

Ben Franklin weighs in on the future government book club:


From Benjamin Franklin to Charles-Guillaume-Frédéric Dumas, 9 December 1775
To Charles-Guillaume-Frédéric Dumas

Reprinted from The Port Folio, ii (1802), 236–7; extracts: American Philosophical Society; Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères, Paris; Algemeen Rijksarchief, the Hague.1
Philadelphia December 9, 1775.Dear sir,
I received your several favours, of May 18, June 30, and July 8, by Messrs. Vaillant and Pochard....

....I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly, that copy which I kept, (after depositing one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the college of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed3) has been continually in the hands of the members of our congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author.

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-22-02-0172

Yes, the same Vattel that defined a Natural Born Citizen to one who is born with attachments to only one sovereignty.

--That said, I have to disagree with your assertion that, "Their particular genius was to then know how to codify those traditional virtues." I think they were rather remarkable for not attempting to do any such thing. The closest they might be said to have come was the Bill of Rights, a proscriptive list which presumes a certain lack of virtue.--

The Constitution codifies the virtues of life, liberty, property rights, equality before the law, limited government, individual rights, religious liberty, self reliance, self defense, self governance, freedom of speech and thought and a host of others. All of those stem from our Western Civilizational heritage and the things the Founders proscribe, they proscribe precisely because they destroy the virtues and liberties they were promoting and preserving.
I didn't say they codified every virtue, large and small toted up by an army of Scholastics, but that they relied upon the great edifice of Western Civilization. They did.

--While I'm not sure exactly how dramatically we differ, I do think your assertion that, "They were men shorn almost completely of ideology," seems wildly overstated, especially considering the arguments and politicking that went into both our revolution and the Constitution which emerged from it.--

I'm not using ideology in the current unfortunate sense of any group of ideas that inform anyone's political thoughts, but in the earlier and more useful one of a systematic worldview not particularly susceptible to rational argument and usually at some level utopian in nature. As I've noted many times here James Burnham makes the critical distinction between a political philosophy such as conservatism and a dogmatic ideology like leftism.
That the Founders were one of the least utopian, least ideological [in the sense I mentioned] and most profoundly practical [and virtuous] groups of political philosophers in history seems pretty indisputable to me. That is why Edmund Burke was so sympathetic to colonists revolting against the very parliament he was a member of to establish a practical and free republic and so hostile to the idiotic ideologues in France creating a utopian republic upon a mound of severed heads of people he considered his nation's enemies.

Of course, we can recite our history lessons about the Constitution but what about how it is implemented today? Since 1913, we have been on a slippery slide away from the basic tenets of the constitution and its advice as a republic.

Who and when do we restore its original intent?

sbw, the reason to read Rousseau is to see his errors and negative influence, and contrast him with Locke and others. But my point is more general and not specific. Skip Rousseau if you like, but know the thinkers who most influenced the Founding Fathers.

jimmyk:

"How many have read these today? How many of our supposed leaders in government could tell you the first thing about these thinkers?"

Perhaps the more salient question is why are those who do understand them not running for office, or participating in a more active way than simply casting a ballot now and then?

jimmyk, I take your point.

It is important to be able to critically examine and refute the proposals of others to show how they are either impractical or they lead to unacceptable consequences.

Too many today have lost — or never gained — the ability to consider alternatives, understand them clearly, and integrate/reject them as necessary.

sbwaters:

"Far more sensible is Emerson’s better crafting of Dictionary Johnson’s “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Alas, I guess Emerson was just not around, when we needed him. Otherwise your point is basically the same one I made at the end of my second paragraph in reference to a certain lack of virtue being the operating principle behind the Bill of Rights.

A platitude is not necessarily meaningless, of course, especially in this particular case when discussing the role of virtue in governance generated by revolution.

sbw, I had to read Marx (Communist Manifesto) at some point. Glad I did, to know what pathetic garbage it is. Just a bunch of platitudes. Hard to believe anyone over the age of 16 ever took it seriously.

My concern, JMH, is that for those who insist on a role for virtue in government never seem able to explain the virtue they seek.

I'm more of a character kind of guy. Character is individual and independent of government structure.

There is no role for virtue in governance. There is a role for character in deciding for whom to vote in and out of government.

jimmyk: I had to read Marx

I read just enough to know I didn’t have to read any more.

TK:

"Yes, the same Vattel that defined a Natural Born Citizen to one who is born with attachments to only one sovereignty."

That's like your personal version of Epstein didn't hang himself!

jib: Who and when do we restore its original intent?

I’m with you. To do that we need to laugh down the postmodernists who claim:
1) history is what you cherry-pick and lie about to fashion the future you want,
2) words mean what they say they mean, and
3) you can’t say what "offends" me.

Any one or more of those points undermines civil discourse necessary to even consider restoring the Constitution to its original intent.

Those who will not engage in civil discourse have abandoned civil society for the Law of the Jungle. That is their prerogative, of course. We just have to recognize when, by their actions, they do.

As for Rousseau--anyone in college who liked that miscreant was on his way to hippiedom. Phony baloney.
I had a longstanding debate with one of my brothers in law who adored Jefferson. I regard him in some ways as another phony. Ben Franklin, however, is my favorite..I think my b-i-l is coming around to that point of view.

Did you know Hamilton's mom might well have been Jewish. Rachel taught him Hebrew and he read from the Bible in Jewish day school.. https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/189128/alexander-hamiltons-jewish-connection. I expect along with the enlightenment worthies, everyone of the founding fathers had read and studied the Bible.

In any event, many of the same tensions we see politically today between how much power to grant to the federal branch and how much should remain local, are represented in the Founding Fathers themselves.

That is a fascinating angle clarice, i suppose anyone could have channelled locke into the declaration, the revolutions partisans like tom paine was one step behind the jacobins and edmund burke was not sanguine on colonial ventures as we discovered with india.

--Otherwise your point is basically the same one I made at the end of my second paragraph in reference to a certain lack of virtue being the operating principle behind the Bill of Rights.--

The entire Constitution is an exercise in protecting citizens from the lack of virtue in human beings. That is the whole idea behind limited government and self governance.
Of course the Founders didn't believe people to be particularly virtuous. That too is from Western Civilization; "there is none who is good, no not one, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". The Western tradition is that man is vile and not perfectable. The utopian left believes man is, given just enough force by just enough leftists with just enough power, namely absolute. The Founders, not being utopians created a Constitution of "negative rights" as Barry whined, precisely because they knew that lack of virtue is most dangerous in the collective power of the state.
But those limits on state power and the recognition of man's nature don't mean they didn't believe in virtues to strive for or that man does display imperfectly.
The great personal virtues of WC are ideals to be fostered and aimed for knowing they won't be attained. The political and institutional virtues of WC are those that name each individual as uniquely created and equally valuable and that ensure the greatest possible liberty for the greatest number while retaining the protections of a civil society.

And most importantly, as even a deist like Jefferson recognized, the triumph of WC is the notion that we are each a possession of God, not other men, and that our rights and Truth come from and are not separable from that Divine authority.
Spinoza and Rousseau believed they are separable and Robespierre demonstrated that they also separate the head from the body, even for those who sought to enforce Rousseau's defective social contract.

If men were angels, they would have no need of govt. Sadly the 1940 constitution in cuba indulgedi in too much of thid utopianism about education healthcare in the like imagine in charkes beard and harold laski had revided our constitution and you get an inkling of the problem

Ignatz:

Well, I'm not sure where the slave-holders and the loyalists fit into your idealogical equation, but I do dispute your claim with regard to the lack of utopianism. There has been an strong strain of Utopian thinking running through American political philosophy, from the 17th century's "city on the hill" to the 18th century's "great awakening" to Jefferson's "ferme ornée, and the idea of a chosen nation, later morphing into manifest destiny. Utopianism has many forms, some more sophisticated and "non-ideological" than others. Yes the Founders were practical men, but I would also point out that the Bill of Rights had the least support of any element in the Constitution, and only barely made it into the final document. Do you suppose the resistance to it was practical or ideological?

I've always taught Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud and the rest in the originals-- how else to judge them? With the exception of Locke, this is an exercise in inoculation. It often works.

Like the smallpox ampule. I remember them from a philosophy survey class and not fondly. Thise in power are unable or unwilling to often give up hence magna carta glorious revolution boll of righrd

You are truly evil, catsmeat.

--Utopianism has many forms, some more sophisticated and "non-ideological" than others.--

Well, everyone, probably even psychopaths, entertain some form of utopia in their mind. But the context is political philosophy and ideology. An ideology has as its goal creating an actual utopia, or as near as it can get.
A political philosophy OTOH, like for instance those espoused by all of the Founders, may or may not entertain the notion of some utopian ideal, but it always realizes it is not a realistic goal and therefore seeks a realistic method to minimize encroachment on liberty and rights balanced with a realistic acknowledgment government of some size must exist to guarantee against internal and external criminals and force. And a political philosophy always takes note of and makes allowance for the imperfect status of human nature, which is what renders any utopianism a fantasy perhaps to be dreamt of but never indulged.
The shining city on a hill bit is meant to reference the USA as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world mired in its misery. That's not utopian, merely anti-dystopian.
The Great Awakening[s] were religious movements which had some political repercussions but are not in the realm of political philosophy.
And Manifest Destiny was hardly some utopian dream. Dems loved it and of course people clamped all sorts of romantic gibberish to it, but it was mostly a bitterly contested, slavery and politics riddled informal concept. Lincoln and many others contested or resisted it. And despite the wooly-headed rhetoric everybody knew at some level, we weren't making a utopia, we were kicking the heads in of the Mexicans and the Indians in order to make the country bigger, get rich and for the south, hopefully expand slave territories.
Utopians are Eric Hoffer's True Believer not John Fremont or Laura Ingalls Wilder.


--Yes the Founders were practical men, but I would also point out that the Bill of Rights had the least support of any element in the Constitution, and only barely made it into the final document. Do you suppose the resistance to it was practical or ideological?--

Since they weren't ideologues it couldn't have been ideological. However IIRC there were several objections to it. The primary one I remember from the Federalists was that by enumerating our rights those not listed might be curtailed because they weren't listed. OTOH as I recall the anti-Federalists were agin the whole Constitution unless it had a bill of rights, because they wanted to make sure the states and their citizens retained their power.
As it turns out the Federalists were dead on, but in the end wrong. Because if it wasn't for the bill of rights we would have virtually no rights left.
The anti-Federalsits were dead wrong but in the end right. Once the incorporation doctrine was introduced the states were subject to the very list they had wanted only applied to the Feds. But their concern about the Feds running roughshod over the states was right on the money.
Both positions sound eminently practical and non ideological to me.

 

Ignatz:

You've tinkered with so much terminology that I'm afraid I've lost the thread of your argument. I can only reiterate my own impression that you've homogenized the fractious philosophical underpinnings of the Founders, and neglected a number of pivotal non-philosophical pieces of the revolutionary puzzle -- perhaps in service to the western, judeo-christian point you wish to make, which in itself, could be seen as an ideological endeavor.

Ideology is all encompassing whereas the republican form of govt was more limited, the great awakeing was a return to the fundamentals whereas the general will was aforgettimg about basic realities.

The terms I'm using are the ones you've introduced to the discussion.
The thread of my argument remains; ideology means something and what it means is an irrational worldview that denies the reality of human nature and seeks to create a new utopian reality in its place.
The Founders were not ideologues and built our Republic on the back of the truths and virtues of Western Civilization and in fact their project was to largely create a rational, practical political framework to preserve and encourage those truths and virtues.

Ignatz:

"The terms I'm using are the ones you've introduced to the discussion."

What? Virtue, ideology, utopian, Greek & Rome classics, the rock of Truth, religion, the Enlightenment where keyed on ancient wisdom... which of these were my introductions?

Last input, before calling it a night. Regardless of how the term ideology is used at present, it got off to an interesting start. Per Wikipedia:

The term "ideology" was born during the Reign of Terror of French Revolution, and acquired several other meanings thereafter.

The word, and the system of ideas associated with it, was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796,[5] while he was in prison pending trial during the Terror. The word was created by assembling the words idea, from Greek ἰδέα (near to the Lockean sense) and -logy, from -λογία.

He devised the term for a "science of ideas" he hoped would form a secure foundation for the moral and political sciences. He based the word on two things: 1) sensations people experience as they interact with the material world; and 2) the ideas that form in their minds due to those sensations. He conceived "Ideology" as a liberal philosophy that would defend individual liberty, property, free markets, and constitutional limits on state power. He argues that among these aspects ideology is the most generic term, because the science of ideas also contains the study of their expression and deduction.

The coup that overthrew Maximilien Robespierre allowed Tracy to pursue his work. Tracy reacted to the terroristic phase of the revolution (during the Napoleonic regime) by trying to work out a rational system of ideas to oppose the irrational mob impulses that had nearly destroyed him.

Seems almost apropos to the discussion, in a sort of backwards-day way, no?

Those terms were all in my very first comment on the other thread so if you lost the thread of my argument it must have been right off the bat.

You introduced a different meaning of ideology and used idealized terms like the shining city on a hill, the great awakening, manifest destiny as examples of utopianism and asked me to explain the debate over the bill of rights, because you seem to define the term virtue in a way somewhat different than I am using it as well.
If we can't agree on the definition of a fundamental term like virtue, ideology or utopianism and your argument is largely predicated on arguing your defintion of those terms without acknowledging or by ignoring that we're arguing with different understandings of basic terms then of course we're going to have a discussion mired in defining and explaining terminologies and talking past each other.
And.

And...nothing. Not sure where that came from.

Iggy and JMHanes, you remind of the quip about the US and the UK, "divided only by a common language."

My favorite founder was Alexander Hamilton. His insight that America needed industry and manufacture, not just some idealized agrarian existence, has been borne out over the years.

I'm not as familiar with the political philosophers as I am with the political economists, but I think Adam Smith had a large effect on the thinking of Hamilton and maybe some others.

The idea that wealth was "created" was a radical departure from all previous economic theory. It wasn't the result of the spoils of war or exploitation or just dug out of the ground or because of one-sided trading possibilities.

jim nj:

"[Hamilton's] insight that America needed industry and manufacture, not just some idealized agrarian existence, has been borne out over the years."

That, in and of itself, would be sufficient basis for a feud with Jefferson. As with everything else Jefferson assayed, Monticello was not just a farm, it was a philosophical, and I daresay, political, endeavor.

JM Hanes,

If memory serves correctly Hamilton and Jefferson clashed on the issue rather heatedly.

In NJ Hamilton formed SUM to take advantage of the water-power at Patterson Falls.

I think that was the first planned industrial park in America.

I think Jefferson, from his experience, thought that a self-supporting agrarian society was best.

I, like Hamilton, disagree, as it would have left us dependent on the manufacturing power of foreign nations.

The result of Hamilton winning out on that argument is well demonstrated in WWII when we became the "arsenal of democracy."

Had the Jefferson ideal won out by WWII we would have been an enormous Ukraine.

That is all for now.

Categories: Blogs, United States

What Was The Agenda?

Wed, 2019-12-11 20:28 +0000

On Monday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his long awaited report on the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation into President Trump's supposed collusion with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.  Shortly after its release, U.S. Attorney John Durham, who leads a criminal investigation into FBI misconduct during that investigation, issued a statement saying he disagreed with some of the IG's conclusions.

“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department," Durham said. "Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

Attorney General William Barr also disagreed with some of the report's conclusion.  Yesterday, Attorney General Barr sat down for an interview with NBC's Pete Williams to talk about it.  The interview, which lasted about 24 minutes and is embedded below, is well worth watching in its entirety. 

The excerpt below, which begins at the 12:59 mark, ought to concern Crossfire Hurricane investigators:

Williams:  What questions will John Durham address that the IG didn't?

Barr:  Well, Durham is looking at the whole waterfront. He's looking at the issue of how it got started. He's looking at whether or not the narrative of Trump being involved in the Russian interference actually preceded July, and was it in fact the precipitating trigger for the investigation. He is also looking at the conduct of the investigation. There are some things that were done in the investigation that are not included in Horowitz's report, and he's looking at those things. But also a few weeks ago I told him that he should spend just as much attention on the post-election period, and I did that because of some of the stuff that Horowitz has uncovered, which to me is inexplicable.

Williams:  Such as?

Barr:  What I said was, their case collapsed after the election. And they never told the court. And they kept on getting renewals on these applications. There's documents falsified in order to get these renewals. There was all kinds of withholding of information from the court, and the question really is, what was the agenda after the election? They kept on pressing ahead after their case collapsed. This is the president of the United States.

"They kept on pressing ahead after their case collapsed. This is the president of the United States."  What was the agenda after the election?  Seems to me one possible answer to that question is treason.

By way of PowerLine.

Categories: Blogs, United States

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